Cell phones have become so much more than devices we use to speak to one another; they're also alarm clocks, flashlights, video game platforms, calendars and more. According to the Pew Research Center, a 2015 study found that 46% of smartphone owners said "they couldn't live without" their phones.
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Cell phones emit a form of radiation called radio waves, which can be absorbed by skin tissue near where the phone is held, according to the National Cancer Institute. Despite our proximity to our cell phones (read: obsession), the World Health Organization reports that no adverse effects on health have been determined from cell phone use. "A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk," the website reads. "To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use."
The National Cancer Institute echoes the WHO, stating that "although there have been some concerns that radiofrequency energy from cell phones held closely to the head may affect the brain and other tissues, to date there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer."
While there is currently no link between cell phone radiation and cancer, a recent study from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, found a link between men who talk on their cell phones for more than one hour a day and their sperm count. The study also finds that men who keep their phone close to their groin may be unknowingly affecting their sperm. According to the Jerusalem Post, the authors of the study have noted that the sample size for the study is limited but recommend men avoid sleeping next to their cell phones and speaking on them for extended periods of time.
A 2008 study funded by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, a nonprofit organization composed of some of the world's leading cell phone manufacturers, found evidence that cell phone radiation can affect a person's state of being. Participants in the study were exposed to both "sham" waves as a control and 884 MHz radio waves used by Global System for Mobile Communications phones. Those who were exposed to the GSM radiation displayed a longer delay in falling into deep sleep and higher instances of headaches.
"We did find an effect from mobile phones from exposure scenarios that were realistic," Bengt Arnetz, the professor who led the study, told the Independent. "This suggests that they have measurable effects on the brain."
Although evidence of the possible long-term, detrimental effects of cell phones has been scarce, those who are very cautious can try to put the phone down before jumping in bed and to keep the cell phone away from their face (and junk).